What is the November Birthstone?
One of the lucky months, November has not one but two gems as its birthstone – Topaz & Citrine. These gemstones are almost indistinguishable, yet their backstories and properties differ greatly.
The History of Topaz
Commonly, Topaz is a brownish stone mistaken for a Diamond, sourced from the scarred Mourne Mountains in Ireland, undisturbed Banffshire in Scotland and the scenic outer reaches of Japan. The most famous and largest specimen was set into the Portuguese Crown and called Braganza or the ‘Diamond of the Regent Prince’. Supposedly it was plucked from the Minas Gerais mines in Brazil in the later 18thcentury.
Prized and used in jewellery for centuries, Topaz crystals grow with rare rapidity and many of the unearthed rough stones have been abnormally large. In fact a collection of huge, finely cut stones are protected in the Green Vault in Dresden, as well as India’s Imperial Treasury of Aurangzeb, which houses an array of precious and rare jewels sourced from all over the world.
The History of Citrine
While Topaz has been wrapped in the poetic mist of Mughal myth, less has been written about Topaz’s twin, Citrine; a yellow to brownish-red variety of the mineral Quartz. Citrine can be distinguished by a fiery reddened-yellow caused by traces of ferric iron. Sometimes formed by heat treating Purple Amethyst or Smoky Quartz, natural Citrine is highly prized among mineral collectors – the more vivid and golden the hue the more valuable the Citrine, whereas, when heat-treated, the light belies its integrity with a reddish tint.
If you’ll permit us to be frank there’s not that much else to say about Citrine. Most often the lemon stone is mined in the north of the tropical Brazilian state, Minas Gerais. After that it’s usually delivered to Jaipur, India, where work continues using a variety of contemporary cuts, before finally concluding with a well-travelled and brilliant finish.
The November gems Citrine and Topaz are both stone silicates with few other structural similarities. However when their body colour aligns it’s almost impossible to tell them apart.